by Fiona McGovern, Isle of Arran, Scotland
I live on the Isle of Arran, a small island off the west coast in Scotland. I am approaching 53 years of age.
In the summer of 2003 I found a lump in the lower part of the right breast. A few months later I had an ultrasound scan and was told it was a non-cancerous fibroadenoma. The specialist would have preferred to carry out a biopsy and lumpectomy as it was an unusual shape. I refused at the time, feeling certain that through diet and life changes I could heal it.
I had once been in hospital when I was 20 for a D&C investigation to find out why my periods had stopped for three years. I found the whole experience traumatic and had vowed never to go to hospital again. I also had developed distrust in doctors and had turned to alternative therapies whenever my body presented a symptom.
So for three years, from 2003 to 2006, I had a go at almost everything – I wrapped myself in frozen sheets, castor oil, I drank my urine and used urine compresses on the lump, I juiced carrots until I turned orange, rebounded on a trampoline, ate all organic etc etc ….you get the picture.
Inside I knew nothing much was changing despite changes to my work. I still pushed myself. I still felt an unrest, a constant feeling of not being good enough, a guilt if I did not try hard at everything.
At the time I ran a very busy massage clinic and taught yoga to over 100 students a week on the island and I also travelled to UK and Europe teaching. I found it almost impossible to say no to clients and as a result worked long hours. My spare time was spent studying more modalities and pushing my body physically hard with cycling, dancing, gardening etc.
I knew as a result of what I had read and studied that I had created the lump and I knew I had big changes to make but the patterns seemed too hard to change.
After three years I was tired. I had worked hard and nothing had changed – in fact my body was giving me further signs of distress. I returned to the doctor who had been concerned initially and who was now worried about me working on it alone for the last three years. I asked for a thermogram to be done privately. However, it was at this time that some family members had moved to Frome and we went to visit them. On the second last day I spotted a small index card on a very busy notice board announcing a talk by Universal Medicine. I said to John, my husband, I am almost sure this is the man that a friend had spoken to me about some months back and had said she felt I would like the guy and what he said. All I knew was that he had a name that I had never heard of before, that he worked with Chris James and spoke of breast lumps. I rang the number and yes, he was the same guy – we giggled.
So there I sat in the front row in November 2006. As soon as Serge came to the front I felt his honesty and integrity. There was no razzmatazz and what he shared made such complete sense. He voiced things I had always felt but had found no support for elsewhere.
At the end I bought a book and took it to him to be signed. We spoke briefly about the lump. In those few moments I felt here was someone who truly met me without imposing on me at all. He asked if it was cancerous. I said at that stage I didn’t think so and I asked what they did at the clinic he ran. He told me how they worked with Western Medicine. How beautiful that was to hear. I felt at last I could find a way to heal that married Western Medicine with how I felt on the inside.
He then said something very simple – ‘you know it’s about nurturing?’ I said, ‘I do’ and he added ‘it’s like brushing your hair gently.’
For me this was really profound. For the first time someone had given me something very practical to do. Also he seemed to know exactly what I was not doing ….. taking time to be with me and adore me. I found looking in a mirror hard and spent as little time as possible on myself.
When we got back home I became unwell. My breathing was laboured and my back ached. I found sleeping difficult. I went back to the doctor and he was anxious that I did not try and go it alone anymore and suggested I go back to the breast clinic. He felt I might have a little fluid on my lungs. However, I had booked a holiday in Mexico and was keen to go and felt the rest would do me good. I was hiding how I really felt from my husband and my GP and even myself, preferring to follow the advice of other alternative practitioners that I was attending before coming to Universal Medicine. I went to Mexico but the flight and altitude was too much for my struggling body and I spent the holiday in a hospital in Guadalahara. I had emergency surgery to fit a chest drain as the pleural cavity had filled with fluid causing the right lung to collapse and the left lung was only able to work on 40% of its capacity as well.
The staff were all so caring in Mexico and it was a very different experience to my previous hospital experience. Unable to speak Spanish I couldn’t even ask what treatment they were giving me let alone refuse it!
It was here in January 2007 that cancer was first mentioned. I was flown back to Scotland into an NHS hospital. I spent three months in various hospitals. A biopsy was taken and the lump was so hard it broke the first needle! It was confirmed it was breast cancer and it was a hormone dependant one with the potential to spread. CT and bone scans showed it had already spread to the lungs, ribs and right hip. I had surgery to re-inflate the right lung. This failed and a huge chest drain was fitted. The surgeon wanted to use cytotoxic drugs to get the lining of the lungs to stick together to prevent further fluid accumulating but I refused. I wanted to get home. Reluctantly he let me go. At the time, it felt like he had given up on me, but then again, I did refuse the treatment.
The oncologist said chemotherapy was out of the question whilst I had a chest drain fitted. She wanted me to have the ovaries ablated, which meant lying still for radiation for 15 minutes. I knew that too was impossible and also felt it wasn’t a route I wanted to take. We agreed I start on hormone treatment beginning with Tamoxifen.
A nurse told me to prepare my will and funeral – that I had two and a half weeks to live. I felt differently. I knew I had huge work to do and knew it wasn’t my time to pass on. I wanted to understand what this was all about.
By this time my friend who first spoke of Serge had returned to the UK and shared with me about the Arcane project on the Universal Medicine website. I began to listen to the downloads from the website and slowly began to clear things from my life which were not truly supportive. I continued with various hormone treatments for the next three years. I was fearful of chemotherapy because of all that I had read about it. My lung did re-inflate and a smaller chest drain was fitted.
The lung specialist whom I felt had given up on me three years previously, on his last examination of me before he retired said, ‘I seriously underestimated you, Fiona …you are the chest drain expert’.
He examined me with a new tenderness and when I asked about the peculiar shape of my sternum revealed through the muscle wastage after the lung collapse, he touched it and said it was a developmental scoliosis – unusual, but it did happen. I felt that the tenderness of his hands said to me…. yes all this has happened to you but you are still beautiful.
I began to have distant esoteric healing with one of the esoteric practitioners in 2008. I was feeling well and booked to go to the Lighthouse in June 2009 and I was to have my first session with Serge and other esoteric practitioners. However, the body said otherwise and I was back in hospital. The tumour had spread to the spine causing spinal cord compression. I was unable to walk. I had radiotherapy and was back at the oncologist’s. Serge and I had our session via the phone and he said to open myself up to what the medics could do for me. I began a drug called Herceptin. I also began distant sessions with esoteric practitioners in esoteric physiotherapy, esoteric healing, esoteric eye work, esoteric dream work, esoteric nutrition and herbalism, gentle exercise and esoteric yoga along with Chris James music to support my expression of myself and most recently esoteric art work.
The chest drain fell out whilst I was in hospital in 2009 and has stayed out since …much to the surprise of the medical staff who commented that I was re-writing medical journals.
I changed doctors around this time and met a GP who was so very gentle and supported me with getting the medicine on the island so I wouldn’t have to travel. At the same time the oncology team changed to a young team of three who I felt I could have fun working with and where there was no judgment of my decisions.
When the time came for chemotherapy I was ready. My body felt stronger, I felt supported both on a physical level with the new doctor and oncology team and on an esoteric level with all the support Universal Medicine offered.
The oncologist nearly fell off her stool when I agreed to the first chemotherapy. She had never met anyone who had so clearly changed attitude regarding chemotherapy. I had 18 weeks of chemotherapy infusions travelling to the mainland for treatment. I called upon Serge to be with me through all of this. I had no side effects other than hair loss. Then I also had six radiotherapy treatments to the breast. When I turned up for treatment the radiologist asked if the photo in the file was really me. She said ‘it does you no favours’. It was taken when I had the spinal collapse. She said, ‘here you are, bright and cheerful walking in…the medicine can work’. Another radiologist made a special trip to see me to say how I made her day, I looked so well after so much treatment and always smiled.
I had months with no treatment until signs were it was active again. I needed to take the nurturing deeper. I also began oral chemotherapy.
In May of this year I felt strong enough to make the journey south to join the Universal Medicine retreat at Frome. This was my first trip off the island for five years other than to hospital. So I got to meet Serge again almost six years on from our first meeting and I met many of the practitioners I had worked with distantly. I felt amazing and was amazed to be there.
The group work helped me restore my confidence amongst people and to open up more to people.
I came home and began to feel the back aching and I knew there was more to learn. The oral tablets were no longer effective, so six weeks ago I began a course of infusions of a different chemotherapy drug. Again I called on Serge to be with me. I have no side effects other than hair loss. I have not required any anti-sickness or anti-diarrhoea medication.
Recently the oncologist remarked, ‘this is amazing Fiona, you can tell the story, you are the living proof’. He was amazed that I was still here, given all the difficulties I had had with my health and the cancer.
I feel I am here and able to share my story today because I married Western medicine with the Esoteric. It was the only way that made sense to me, and having the support of Universal Medicine has been key. Knowing what I know now I would definitely do things differently. If I could redo it, I would be open to Western Medicine and not fearful of the diagnostic procedures or side effects. I would not read all the books out there suggesting cancer is easy to heal yourself – it isn’t and in trying to do it the natural way I pushed it further into the body, making it extremely painful for me and complicated for the medics and a huge trauma for my family.
However, I have only been met with respect by the medics and nurses and there has been no judgment of my choices.
Having previously had distrust of medics, I now admire their work and dedication.
The side effects of my treatment have been minimal because I have combined the two approaches, taking deep care of myself with food and sleep and the choices I now make. Also through the esoteric healings I have been able to feel the illusion of my previously held ideals and beliefs about health and healing and how they actually worked against me.
From where I am now it is very clear to me that it is best to do both Western Medicine and true Esoteric Healing. For me, Western Medicine has worked on the physical symptoms, the tumour and the secondaries, and also helped with pain relief when it has been needed and wound cleaning. I have also found it a support to have a team I have got to know and can be myself with. I have learnt how vital the communication between patient and physician is and how, when it is non-imposing and truly connecting with the patient, it aids the healing enormously. Of course it is a 2-way process, as doctors also require us to be open and honest in communication in order to make a diagnosis.
Esoteric healing has worked on the emotional issues that were the root cause of the cancer and which lead me to not value nor nurture myself. With esoteric nutrition I have discovered how to truly nurture myself with food, baths and teas; not in order to fix anything but in deep honour of myself as a precious woman. I have found how I carried the pain of having separated from my true self in my body and through gentle and tender touch and words I am re-imprinting that with love.
The esoteric physiotherapy and the gentle exercise have helped me stop the old pattern in my body of ‘trying’ and of wanting to fix the body and to begin to really feel my body, be more honest about where it is and how it feels and to enjoy moving it in fun ways.
Working with Chris James began freeing up my expression through singing and I have found that the esoteric artwork has expanded on that. These two have allowed me to bring into my daily rituals the practices of singing, drawing and writing – things I always loved but had made no time for. And as a consequence, what beauty has resulted in my daily journal pages to further inspire me. In all the esoteric healings, the practitioners have supported me to be playful and to enjoy the process of healing, to see it as an unfolding, to be patient, to restore confidence and not to worry …and to keep it simple.
Through the distant healings I have experienced how we are all connected and how there is support for us all to be ourselves. I could feel that support from across the world without having physically seen or spoken to the practitioner. When I have received healing I have felt a deep stillness and often a heat, which my husband has felt too even though we have not always known the exact time healings were taking place. The healings have supported me to get back in touch with the true me, the playful and beautiful woman. This has all helped me through the rigours of chemotherapy and the pain of cancer in the body. Having worked distantly has supported me to understand more of how energy works and the simplicity of it all. We just need to reconnect to our stillness. There are no boundaries. I have not attended any workshops or courses other than the retreat this year.
I have seen each trip for chemotherapy treatment as a date ….with me. I have fun choosing what to wear, waking early to get prepared, making a yummy lunch to take with me. I then see it as a date with each person involved … the oncologist, the driver, the other patients, the passengers on the boat, the nurses … and with Serge.
I see how being playful provides others with a clear reflection that it can be different – you can still sparkle and giggle.
Through my dreams I have received clear guidance of how to be with the treatment, eg not worrying about side effects, having fun with the wig etc.
For me, I see the cancer as a stepping stone to love, it constantly shows me there is more to learn, to release, to be. I have seen each session as a healing.
Through it I have opened up to Western Medicine, discovering the amazingness of the medics, their dedication and also the medicine.
I have learnt to say ‘No’ to others which was a miracle in itself, having been someone who literally bent over backwards to help anyone and could not say no. I have found that it is saying a big ‘Yes’ to me and is so self-honouring. I have felt the damage caused by taking on others’ emotions, of trying hard, of pushing my body.
I can now look in the mirror and truly feel the beautiful woman I am.
I have learnt that even in the greatest pain, there is light if we choose to connect to it.
I have seen how staying with my light and having fun has had an effect on those around me, my family and friends. There is a greater level of communication and true support and laughter.
I have learnt I am much more than all the certificates I once had, all the knowledge I had of the body, all the doing. That being me is definitely ok and that being different is also very much ok.
At times I have struggled with how my body has changed, weight loss, height loss, a fungating tumour and loss of hair.
I have learnt at these times to truly be with my body in tenderness, touching and holding it tenderly, honouring its preciousness instead of recoiling from it. I have begun to adore it with self-massage, lovely oils and creams, long warm baths, warm clothes, nurturing foods, talking tenderly to myself.
It always surprises me how much deeper I can take the gentleness and the self-nurturing.
I have felt how in my life before cancer I escaped with yoga and in work. Now I am able to be in the world, feel all the pain around me but choose to be love within it. Visiting hospital weekly has put me in touch with people I would never have met and has exposed me to the pain people carry with them. I now practise esoteric yoga, just being me and doing gentle exercise in which I can be with my body in a very loving way without the trying or pushing or the escaping from life.
I walk every day and enjoy that rhythm and being with nature. I feel how far my body wants to walk and where it wants to be, eg by the sea, amongst trees or around the garden and what it wants to wear.
Cancer has given me time to feel what is of value in life, the relationships I build, my home, the food I eat, the music I listen and sing to, the books I read. I have learnt that life is medicine and that I have a choice to choose loving medicine every step of the way and that it is all there for me. I don’t need to travel or to live in a certain place, to do a course or gain a certificate.
I just need to be me, the full true me.
With deep love and thanks to all at Universal Medicine for the constant support and love for me.